Ready or Not #50: Planning a Garden

My neighbor has already started to plant seeds in her garden, the early seeds like beans and peas. I, on the other hand, have done nothing. I know that there are a lot of talented gardeners that have itchy green thumbs that really want to get our there and get started – I’m not one of them. Thankfully, my husband was born with a green thumb and so we will have a garden.

I am not going to advise you about how to prepare your soil or what kind of plants you need to plant because I don’t know any of that. I have a brown thumb and live plants shriek with fear as I pass by. What I am going to ask you to do is to put a lot of thought into what you will realistically need and use – fresh and bottled, and then plan accordingly. Now is the time to think about building your food storage, before you plant your garden.

What do you eat? Can you bottle a meal in a jar? I like to bottle stewed tomatoes because I can make anything with them from lasagna, spaghetti, salsa soup, tomato soup (go figure), Parmigiana Chicken and any other tomato based recipes. I don’t mind adding a few herbs and spices when I open my stewed tomatoes and so I don’t add anything but lemon juice and salt when I bottle them. My friend on the other hand likes to bottle spaghetti sauce and tomato soup and tomato juice all separately. She will also bottle some stewed tomatoes, but she will spice them up. Her food is delicious and she will only have to open up her bottles and warm the contents in order to have a delicious meal. Sit down and figure out how many tomato plants you need to accommodate your family’s favorite meals for an entire year. Tomato plant information cards will let you know how much you can expect to get off of each plant and then plan accordingly.

Green beans. I love green beans. One of my favorite meals is to take fresh green beans and fry them in olive oil until they go limp. Add a little butter for flavor and then salt and sprinkle with garlic to taste and fry a little bit longer to caramelize the garlic – and yes I have eaten just that for a meal before. I am definitely going to be planting green beans. To store them for future use all you have to do is to pick them, wash them, blanch them and then freeze them. Hardly any work at all and you can just taste the rewards.

I could go on and on with all of the different things that can be grown in the garden like corn, potatoes, chard or spinach, beets and so forth, but I think that you have the picture. Decide what you like, figure out how much you need to grow to take care of your family for a year and then plan accordingly, just like they used to before they could run to the grocery store everyday. Now get out there and plan, then get to work.

Now, for the rest of you who don’t have talented spouses that can grow amazing gardens or you don’t have space for a garden, or you are just like me and don’t like to garden, we just need to look at this differently. If you aren’t going to go out and get your hands dirty and become one with the earth, then you are just going to have to dig deeper into your pockets. By that I mean that you will need to sit down and make your own plan. First, sit down and figure out what you are going to need to eat for the year, just like your neighbor the gardener, and then figure out how much you are going to need to BUY in order to get your family prepared. Then, watch the ads and buy what you think you will need.

Now, on those hot summer days when you see your neighbor out taking care of his garden, I expect you to make some fresh cold lemonade and take it over to him after you have unloaded the cases of fruits and vegetables that you just bought.
To help you out, here is the best Lemonade recipe in the world: 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar (or Splenda) and 6 cups of cold water. Really delicious! If you are really nice, when you take the lemonade over, your neighbor might share some strawberries or raspberries to crush up and put in the lemonade – YUM!

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